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Territorial Governance – Pomeranian Administrative Ordinance (November 21, 1575)

At the heart of the institutionalization of territorial governance lay the regulation and continuity of the prince’s central regime. Ensuring these things meant more lawyers and secretaries, but it also meant that these individuals were now subject to new standards of discipline for the sake of bureaucratic efficiency, impartial justice, and fiscal responsibility. The roots of regulation can be found in the last decades of the fifteenth century in the southern and central German principalities, notably Bavaria, Württemberg, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Saxony. By the later sixteenth century, regulation had spread to the northern states as well. Administrative ordinances aimed to force the states’ judicial administrative officers to obey the rules of honesty, impartiality, industry, and sometimes appearance. At the top of the hierarchy stood the prince’s council, followed by the chancellery, which handled the production, duplication, and preservation of administrative documents, without which regular, efficient, and honest governance was impossible (not to mention taxation to support the costs of the regime, the princely household, and military forces). In 1575, Duke Johann Friedrich (r. 1560-1600) issued this ordinance for the duchy of Pomeranian-Stettin. The document illustrates a crucial step in the development of a set of territorial regulations: the separation of judicial from administrative business. The document begins with the councilors and then moves to the chancellery, for which it specifies the numbers, duties, and oversight of the appointees.

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The Ordinance of Johann Friedrich, by God’s grace duke of Pomerania-Stettin [ . . . ] as to how the business of our regime shall be conducted. Published at Old Stettin, November 21, 1575.

Privy Councilors

Our councilors shall not only be attentive to the honest and competent performance of their appointed offices. Once appointed, installed, and sworn in, they shall direct all their thoughts and actions principally to the honor of God and to the common good, advantage, and welfare of our regime. They shall handle their own affairs according to our business and not [handle] our affairs according to their own opportunity and desire. They shall dutifully attend to their tasks at all times and not request leaves except for special, highly pressing reasons. [ . . . ]

[The councilors] shall not receive gifts or fees from parties. Concerning parties who come before us and our court, they shall not advise or represent those [parties] in cases in which they were involved before they were appointed; they shall not sit on the court or serve as advocates, except in instances of mediation or the summoning of witnesses.

And if one of our councilors be charged with violations of the rule, he shall be deprived both of his post in our service and of his good name, be banished for life from our lands, and shall surrender legal claims to his properties to the injured party.

Our councilors shall also live loyally and faithfully according to their duties and [according to] this and other regulations for the regime. They shall hold ready the horses, servants, and garments issued to everyone and wear the garments to enhance our honor, or be deprived of them should they fail to do so, as follows:

When a councilor is sent on mission, he shall ride his own horse at our cost, but if he is on his own affairs, at his own cost, so that the towns and the poor will not have to supply transportation and we will not be saddled with double costs. [ . . . ]

The Chancellor and the Judicial Administrator

During his princely regime, our dear lord and father of highly praiseworthy Christian memory, who rests in God, delegated, as we have subsequently done, both judicial and personal [princely] affairs to the office of the chancellor. We have discovered, however, that not only have cases and affairs increased, but we also personally promised our obedient territorial estates at past sessions of the parliament that we would speed up and improve our courts through a special officer, namely, a judicial administrator. Therefore, at the most recent parliamentary session at Wollin in this year of 1575, we allotted our [personal] princely business to our chancellor, Jacob Kleiste, and the judicial affairs to an administrator, Dr. Johann Lubbek*. [ . . . ] It is our intention, too, to assign to the administrator certain of the privy councilors, who will serve [as judges] in the court only and will be occupied with no other business. All of our councilors shall, when they are present, nonetheless sit in the court and help evaluate judicial documents and expedite petitions and other types of cases.

* This passage marks one of the most important moments in the transformation of an old-style, patrimonial regime into a new-style, bureaucratic regime, the separation of judicial affairs from the prince’s personal administrative business – trans.

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